Matt Duffy finished his senior season with the University of Maine in March and has since played nine games with the AHL Rochester Americans, and three games with the ECHL Florida Everblades, both affiliates of the Florida Panthers. At Maine he scored 17 points in 39 games this season, in Rochester six points, and is scoreless with the Everblades, who have just advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
The 6’2, 201-pound Duffy was a fourth-round pick of the Panthers in 2005, and will be looking for a contract with the organization this summer.
Hockey’s Future spoke to the 23-year-old Duffy during Sunday’s Everblades playoff game.
HF: Are you out of the lineup right now because you’re the low man on the totem pole?
MD: Last game I took a shot off the ankle and it’s pretty swollen today. I was going to play but I couldn’t really get my skate on, so they said take the day off. We have pretty good depth on this team so if I’m not healthy I’m not going to play and hurt the team.
HF: Why were you out Thursday then?
MD: I came here after Rochester’s season and practiced a couple days. [The Everblades] are just easing me into games right now — get used to their systems and the guys. I’m not in any hurry to get into games. I’m just here to help the team and contribute as much as possible.
HF: How did you think your year went with Maine overall?
MD: It went alright. We had a little bit of a rough year, but we made the playoffs this year — the year before we didn’t. We were young, inexperienced, so we didn’t make it too far, but I thought I played pretty well. Rochester gave me the opportunity to go up there and play. I played pretty well and Florida asked me to come down for the playoffs and I was prety excited. Can’t pass it up so I said sure.
HF: Did it make you feel better that you lost to the eventual [NCAA] champions in Boston University?
MD: (laughs) Yeah, we lost the first game 2-1 and I thought we played pretty well against them. We should have won that game. The second game we ended up winning and the third game we were at their barn and their atmosphere kind of got to us. We didn’t focus that well. They squeaked by us but I’m pretty happy with Hockey East winning.
HF: So you were rooting for them over Vermont?
MD: Uh, yes and no. I like Hockey East teams to make it that far. I was happy that they won, it’s good for our league.
HF: How is the system in Rochester and Florida different than what you played in Maine?
MD: It’s just different going from college to pros. Pro hockey’s more position work, a lot stronger guys, quicker. I adapted pretty well in Rochester. The systems are a little different here and I’m still trying to get used to them. Practice helps. I felt pretty confident last night when I played.
HF: It seems like it went well in Rochester, you were scoring a lot.
MD: (laughs). I guess so, yeah. I was on the power play which was a good opportunity for me. I was just trying to get shots through.
HF: It seems that you’re more offensive than your college numbers show — would you agree with that?
MD: I definitely would be. I try to jump into plays as much as possible and get shots to the net, but it was kind of hard at Maine. We were inexperienced, so I tried to play smart defense. We had a young goaltender and our main focus was playing strong D for him.
HF: What have you discovered you need to do over the summer to prep for pro hockey?
MD: I’m going to have to get my foot speed a little quicker, get stronger, bigger. My main focus is going to be my endurance and getting faster on my feet.
HF: Are you going back to Maine to train?
MD: Yep, that’s where I live, my hometown’s Portland, Maine, so I’ll go up to Orono [home of Univ. of Maine] for maybe a month out of the summer. We have our own training room and can skate there. A bunch of older guys come back like Jimmy Howard who plays for Grand Rapids. But most of my training will be in Portland and hopefully I’ll go to Panthers prospect camp too.
HF: Are you going to fly back up there for exams soon?
MD: I’m 100 percent sure I’m going to fly back for graduation. I’m taking most exams online right now. A couple of my teachers are saying I need to come back for exams, but I’m not really sure yet, so I’m trying to work things out with them. As of right now I’m taking everything online. Hopefully I’ll just get back to walk for graduation with my friends.
HF: What day is graduation?
MD: I think it’s the 7th or 8th [of May].
HF: You’re looking for a contract with the Panthers, have you had any preliminary talks with them?
MD: Not really. After the season was done with Maine, they gave me the opportunity to go to Rochester. They didn’t really say much to me. I just wanted to go there and show them I could play at this level and do whatever it takes to get there and get a contract.
HF: Next year is your main goal to stick in Rochester?
MD: Yes, my main goal is to play in the AHL and I’ll do whatever it takes. Whatever Florida wants me to do, I’ll do. It’s been my dream my whole life, so I’ll be working especially hard to get to that level.